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Focus on CX to Ride the AI Super Wave


Europe, Portugal, Oeste Region, Nazaré, Crowd watching the Huge Waves from Forte de Sao Miguel Arcanjo during Free Surfing Event 2022

Europe, Portugal, Oeste Region, Nazaré, Crowd watching the Huge Waves from Forte de Sao Miguel Arcanjo during Free Surfing Event 2022

Kerry Dunstone / Alamy Stock Photo

On a flight earlier this year, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a retired CEO from a Fortune 500 company. One of the topics of conversation was travel, more specifically, Portugal, and the small seaside town of Nazaré.

Having never heard of Nazaré, he suggested I watch the “100 Foot Wave” series on HBO. If you haven’t watched it, the series follows big wave surfer Garrett McNamara as he travels to Nazaré to surf giant waves, some reaching heights of 100 feet. Until 2011, nobody had successfully attempted to surf these “super waves,” as it was too dangerous to swim out to the waves to catch them due to their massive size and the rocky coastline.

It wasn’t until McNamara figured out that the waves could be reached by jet ski and that by towing surfers out to a certain spot, they could catch and try to surf the super waves. The series follows his discovery, early attempts, and the barrage of surfers that would flock to Nazaré to ride the waves.


Digital Re-transformation

At the recent NICE Interactions conference in New York, NY, CEO Barak Eilam talked about a different kind of super wave, AI. It was a big part of his visually stunning keynote address, where he spoke about the impact of AI on the customer experience (CX) space and how it will affect the industry, customers, and prospects.


I had the privilege of sitting down with Barak at the event for a one-on-one interview, where we discussed his keynote in more detail.

During the interview, he talked about one of his key messages to the NICE customers and prospects in attendance: “You have to position yourself into the next wave, which is AI. And AI is not just a technology wave; it’s really a Super Wave which I think is a true game changer for our industry, but of course, the world as a whole.”

So how do you position yourself in this next wave?

Barak gave some direction in his keynote, including a creatively animated slide titled “Start Over Your Digital Transformation.” Even then, I thought, “Did he really just suggest starting over digital transformations?”

In the interview, I asked Barak what he meant by that:

“I know it’s hard – it’s a tough message, but I think there is almost no other option. CX moves at a very, very fast pace … there is no such thing as looking at voice engagement and digital engagement separately. Everything needs to be looked at as one journey, not a separate one, and hence you actually have to redo some of the architecture, and I do see a lot of large enterprises understand that what they have in digital are basically ‘gen 1’ type of solutions and we are being asked to come into the mix and take a much broader approach.”

Barak also mentioned the problem of silos and how they are still a considerable challenge. And while this isn’t a new concept, the limitations get amplified when we layer in AI. Gen 1 solutions are mostly restricted to sharing pieces of information between systems, but AI needs all the data all the time to be truly transformative.


All Your Data, All the Time

Initial digital transformation efforts have centered around, first, making things digital. Later rounds focused on moving from legacy systems to the cloud. But many of these initiatives still left organizations with the dreaded silos, not always intentionally, but frequently as the result of decisions getting made by different departments. Sometimes, the silos are connected by APIs, but limitations keep them from being truly integrated. As we think of new AI-enabled CX journeys, the kind we as customers have all been waiting for, a new paradigm is required, where AI has access to all the data all the time.

I was a consultant for 25 years, so I understand the real-world factors that lead to siloed environments with a mix of legacy and modern solutions under one roof. Organizations don’t set out to create these situations, they are forced into them through actions out of their

control, such as mergers and acquisitions, limitations of legacy business applications, or corporate structures that don’t allow for much cooperation.


Focus on CX to Guide AI Deployments

When you implement AI in a siloed environment, you end up with multiple AIs. For example, the AI that enables your chatbots on your website are different than the AI managing call routing, which is different from the AI assisting your agents. This creates a fragmented experience for all involved and makes it more difficult to manage, report on, and train.

To avoid this, organizations need to reevaluate the technologies that most affect customers with an emphasis on how AI can be leveraged to provide a better experience for customers, agents, and supervisors. They need to take a broader approach, looking at the entire CX ecosystem, one with AI at the center. The digital “re-transformation” can then begin with this holistic perspective, where all solutions that affect CX are evaluated with the new lens of how AI, ideally a single AI solution, can drive CX perspectives today and in the future.

In a No Jitter post from 2017 titled “Navigating Disruption, Synergizing with Tech,” I wrote about this exact problem in a previous technology wave, the move to cloud-based Unified Communications. In that post, I discussed the biblical reference of putting new wine in old wineskins. New wine requires new wineskins, as it will cause old wineskins to burst.

The same logic applies here, where applying modern AI to legacy environments is incredibly challenging. New eras of technology require new approaches to digital transformation. Just as McNamara figured out a new paradigm was needed to surf the super waves of Nazaré, we too need to figure out this new paradigm for this new era of CX, with AI in the center, powering the efficient and hyper-personalized interactions we all want as customers.

With the right approach, the super wave of AI can propel CX to epic heights. With the wrong approach, it can get pretty gnarly out there.

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This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.